Gift cards let Bay Area shoppers support small businesses even during coronavirus shelter-in-place

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The outpouring of help for the less fortunate in these hard times is heartwarming -- but how can you help while sheltering in place?

If you are still working and have some money to spare, helping is not that tough.

It just takes a little heart.

If a store goes out of business, a gift card will be useless -- it's good to keep that in mind.

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If that is not a chance, you can look for another way to help your neighbors.

Like so many of us, Hayward resident Leslie Keeney is working from home.

Besides dealing with the isolation, she has family concerns.

"My baby sister and her husband are both recuperating from the coronavirus," Keeney says.

They are healing now, but tired, and Keeney wanted to help them out while doing something to help the community, too.

So she bought them a GrubHub gift card.

"I figure this way, I am doing them a huge favor and also helping to keep some of these smaller businesses going. I am really concerned about their survival in all of this," says Keeney.

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Keeney is not alone with those concerns. We have all seen the sad video of closed stores and restaurants.

Gift card expert Shelley Hunter says she is hearing from consumers who want to help.

"It is actually how a lot of people talk to me about it," Hunter said. "Can they give a 'micro loan,' is what they are calling it, to small businesses by buying gift cards."

A wonderful, giving idea, but does it accomplish that goal? Shelley says yes.

"It can be beneficial when you buy a gift card," Hunter said. "It is a deferred revenue, ultimately it has to be settled up by the restaurant, but it does increase cash flow for a small business and can help them pay the bills and or employees in the interim."

It allows each of us, who have the means, to help our neighbors.

"It does feel good, and I am glad I am able to do it," Keeney said. "Not everyone is in a position to be able to help like that."

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Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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